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3-154 (Original)

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author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,30 addressee
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Deniehy, 1884
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He (Mr. Deniehy) held the opinion that in a young country like this, every citizen who paid taxes, let his position be what it might, had a right to vote for a representative in the government of the country. He did not base that right upon such abstract theories of representative government as those brought forward by hon. members on the opposite side of the House. When hon. gentlemen pointed out to them the examples of Grecian democracies and the danger of putting large powers into the hands of the populace, they had forgotten to tell them there was not the slightest similarity between the popular institutions of those days and the representative system of England. The former were the primary assemblies of the people, and were often wrought to violent and hasty action by fiery and intemperate orators; and the great difference was, that the latter, the representative system, provided for the election of representatives who should calmly deliberate for the masses. Whatever might be the character of individuals forming a constituency, it was not likely to affect that of a representative; and hon. members would hardly contest what had been said by a high authority, "that no man, however ignorant, when called upon to vote, would do so in support of one whom he considered equally uneducated or low in character." And this formed the sure safeguard of representative institutions. As to the statement, supported on the authority of Sismondi, that the ancients enjoyed popular power and free institutions in the highest perfection; and the argument founded thereupon - that if they were now taken as models or guides, nothing short of national ruin could be expected - he might say that Socrates, Plato, or Demosthenes had as much idea of representative government as they had of the Acts of the Apostles. Turning to America, it was positively painful to hear hon. members on the other side of the House, so anxious to depreciate the men chosen by the popular voice there, some of whom had been of the most distinguished ability and irreproachable character. Amongst those might be named Webster, Clay, Calhoun, and others almost as eminent, and the loftiness and the purity of the principles by which those men were actuated was shown in the choice of such statesmen for Ministers at foreign Courts as Hunt, Everitt, Irving, and Buchanan. So far as regard to character, ability, and attainments was concered, she set a noble example to England by exercising what was purely a patronage of worth. Into any young country it was the duty of the Government to welcome new-comers, and put them in possession of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and that was to be done by giving them the franchise; and he believed that in such a place, where a man lived by the reward of labour, none would wish for a destructive or revolutionary policy. But they had striven too long and suffered too sorely under the clique and caste system in England not to wish and strive for something better in the land where they sought refuge ; and it was the solemn and sacred duty of legislators to prepare for them a fair field where there was no favour. The real value of such a measure as the present was, that it would be the preliminary to a Land Bill, and it was possible that, in view of its affecting that subject, the foolish outcry of revolution had been raised. He would vote for the second reading; and he had never before recorded his vote with such entire satisfaction to himself, because he felt that he was discharging his duty to the country as a citizen, as a representative to those who had sent him there, and to himself as a man, a husband, and a father. [61] [62]